Las Medulas - World Heritage
Las M├ędulas is a historical site near the town of Ponferrada, province of Le├│n, in the region of Castile and Le├│n, Spain. It was formerly the site of the most important gold mine in the Roman Empire. In 1997, the Cultural Landscape of Las M├ędulas was listed by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.
The spectacular landscape of Las M├ędulas is the result of "Ruina Montium", a Roman mining technique involving undermining the mountain with large quantities of water supplied by at least seven long aqueducts. These aqueducts, which tapped the rivers in the nearby mountains, were also used to wash the gold deposits. This mining technique, based on hydraulic power, took place in the 1st century A.D. when the Roman Imperial authorities began to exploit the gold deposits of this region in north-west Spain. When the Romans finally withdrew from the area after working the deposits for two centuries, the landscape was devastated.
Las M├ędulas gold-mining area is currently held to be an outstanding example of innovative Roman technology. The area's landscape provides exceptional and excellently-preserved evidence of a tradition of working and the technological and scientific exploitation of nature in a vanished civilization.
The Archaeological Zone of Las M├ędulas (ZAM) comprises the mines themselves as well as large areas where the tailings resulting from the mining process were deposited. The site also include the dams that were used to collect the water for the mining process.